When my husband and I got married, a group of wonderfully talented women assembled an album of recipes for us. I say album because these recipes were scrapbooked onto 6x6 pages. I definitely have some favorites: cranberry and apricot pork tenderloin and chicken pillows readily come to mind (I will post them ... eventually). One of the most intimidating recipes in that three-album collection was a pavlova. I had never even heard of it, but it looked delightful!
After making creme brulee earlier this week, I had leftover egg whites that needed to be used or tossed. Pavlova, which is essentially the Australian take on a meringue, seemed the perfect fit, so I looked up some information on the confection and pulled out the Bosch to whip up some whites. While the recipe in my album is not the recipe I used yesterday, it was the inspiration. Below is the recipe, from elise.com, that I tried. I really liked the step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos that went with it. I am not yet coordinated enough to cook and snap photos at the same time. Eventually. In the meantime, here's pavlova, an Australian dessert inspired by the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites at room temperature
2 pints fresh or frozen berries
1/4 cup sugar
1. Preheat oven to 275. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 8 to 10 3-inch wide circles on the parchment paper, then turn over the paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Pipe or spoon meringue into 8-10 large round mounds using the pencil drawings as your guide. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7. Served topped with your favorite filling - lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.
Sauce or Filling Directions
For a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling aprt. Remove from heat and let cool.
Lessons learned: If you are intimidated by meringue, like I was until yesterday, the pictures that go with the link really do help. I have not posted them here because I don't want to deal with the copyright police. I used the cream of tartar option and the meringue behaved just like the instructions. Make sure that your bowl does not have a speck of oil in it. If it does, your eggs will not beat properly. Ideally, you should beat egg whites in a copper bowl -- a chemical reaction happens that yields a better beaten white than the same effort in other bowls.
I cooked the meringue a little longer than the prescribed amount of time and once it was done, I turned the oven off and let them cool in the oven. I did turn the pan partway through the cooking to just make sure it didn't burn.
The pan does not need to be greased, but you must use a gentle hand to remove the meringues. Otherwise, they will crack or fall apart. Also, I had more meringue than I could fit on one pan, so I threw the rest out.
The meringues will expand during cooking, so make sure your circles are not too close together. You do NOT want them to stick together. It ruins the beauty of the outer crust.
You can make this into one big dessert (which requires a longer cooking time), but I opted for the smaller ones. I stored the leftovers in zippered bags, then shared some this morning with two friends. Perhaps it was tacky, but I gave each of them a pudding cup to put on top of the meringue (the berries just wouldn't transport well and I didn't have whipped cream).
I like a sweeter berry, so I loaded up on sugar with my raspberries. It was still too tart and runny for my liking. If you want a thicker sauce, I suggest adding a cornstarch mixture into the berries if the sauce gets too watery.
I poured chocolate and caramel sauces over my son's dessert and he loved it. Chocolate also worked well with the raspberries (but then, chocolate goes with just about everything).